Case Study: Developing Chinks in the Vaunted “Toyota Way”

Introduction Since 2005 Toyota has dominated the car industry but when people spoke of Toyota is was never to say that it had the best fuel efficiency, faster or even more luxurious. They always spoke about how solid the car was, how good it was on gas and how they really never had a problem with the Toyota they bought.

Everyone that spoke about Toyota always said that it was a great car for a great price. Toyota has always focused on making a quality car for a fair price and had the reputation as a great company to work for. The people that worked for Toyota always felt they were making a difference and part of a team. They felt their work mattered and problems were not swept under a rug in order to turn a profit…until recently.

Over the last couple of years it seems that Toyota has run into more than their fair share of problems. Now when people talk about Toyota they mention mechanical problems or problems with the quality of the product. What has changed? What has taken Toyota off the path of a great car for a great price? Has Toyota sacrificed quality for quantity in order to turn a larger profit or was something behind all of this? Was part of the plan to recover the United States auto industry to put into question the quality of the foreign automobile? Issues Addressed

What has taken Toyota away from “The Toyota Way (Nelson and Quick, 2011-586)?” The Toyota way is, according to Toyota, a set of principles that have, until recently, set the standard for all other auto makers to follow. Toyota listens to the employee’s suggestions and even implements them if they make sense. Toyota recently conducted a study of the their products against the competitors, component by component only to find that just over half of all of their products were superior.

This type of findings found Toyota was suffering from mediocrity and maybe Toyota’s pursuit of profit and becoming number one caused the loss of focus of the original fourteen principles that was the very core that got them to the top? Answering the Questions

1.Nelson and Quick describe espoused values as “what members of an organization say they value (Nelson and Quick, 2011-560)” and “enacted values are values reflected in the way individuals actually behave (Nelson and Quick, 2011-560).” So one has to think that there is a strong possibility that Toyota’s employees are no longer feeling valued as employees. With the economy suffering, cuts are being made in almost every corporation in the world and Toyota is not exempt from this.

Since 2009 Toyota has been suffering from the massive lawsuits of the braking problems of their vehicles and the vehicles unable to stop. With massive recalls and millions of dollars being paid out because of a quality issue the money had to come from somewhere. Since 2009 Toyota made huge cuts in manufacturing and production came to crawl and thus laying off a lot of employees.

With employee layoffs comes the uncertainty of a future and with that the employees are no longer feeling like a family but now feeling like a number and numbers are easy to cut. 2.Toyota has always tried to stick with the original fourteen principles they simply label as the Toyota way. These fourteen basic principles are “a pattern of basic assumptions that are considered valid and that are taught to new members as the way to perceive, think, and feel in the organization (Nelson and Quick, 2011- 740).”

The Toyota Way lends in the way management decision are made, process flows, amount of production and bringing problems to the surface vice sweeping them under a rug. 3.Up until the last few years The Toyota Way was preached, taught, and embedded into the way all employees acted and thought. Now the CEO of Toyota, Katsuaki Watanabe, is thinking that Toyota has strayed from the path of the Toyota Way and the quality of the product and the efficiency of the production companies are suffering because of this.

4.As virtually every company in the world is trying to figure out how to survive and make it through the recession, Toyota is no different. The CEO of Toyota faces new challenges as well as trying to get back to the core principles that brought them to the top of every auto manufacturing envy list. Toyota is trying to expand their operations, recover from the damaging reputation and instill the Toyota Way back into the entire corporation. Toyota is spending millions of dollars in an attempt to give Toyota the public confidence it once had. This challenge, in today’s economy seems almost impossible but Toyota is committed and believes they will prevail. Conclusions

I have always considered myself an open minded individual and have tried to look at only the facts before coming to a conclusion. While America’s auto industries were on the verge of collapse and the United States government having to bail them out, I have to wonder why the United States government was so involved with the problems of the Toyota products. At the peak of the auto industry crises in the United States our government ensured the problems with the quality and reliability of the Toyota products were questionable and always in the headlines of all the news.

With the United States trying to recover what was left of the auto industry and ensure the American people had faith in the quality of the American automobile they always made sure the quality of the import was in question. One has to think that something was behind all this to ensure the American people went back to buying American automobiles. Has Toyota really left the path of the Toyota Way or did they get pushed off the path?

References Isidore, Chris. CNN Money. February 9, 2001. http://money.cnn.com/2011/02/08/news/companies/toyota_cost_cutting/index.htm Nelson, D. & Campbell-Quick, J., (2011). Organizational Behavior: Science, the Real World and You. (7th ed.). Canada: South-Western Cengage Learning. Pace, Joe. The Workplace: Today and Tomorrow. The Professional Development Series, Book One.